Story By: TOM BOGGIE / ALBANY-SARATOGA SPEEDWAY – MALTA, NY – Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”
Mike Mahaney can attest to that.
After taking an extra day of preparation, Mahaney put the George Huttig-owned modified in victory lane for the first time Friday night in the 35-lap NAPA Modifieds feature at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
Mahaney used a restart to take the lead away from Jack Speshock and then went on to become the sixth different modified winner in six weeks of racing this season at the historic Malta track.
“We skipped Can-Am (a Super DIRT Series race on Wednesday) this week so we could work on the car and get it better, and it paid off,” said Mahaney after his win. “We’ve really struggled here this year and couldn’t pinpoint what the problem was.”
There were no problems Friday night. After starting ninth in the field, Mahaney was fourth by lap nine, and picked up another spot on lap 17 when two-time track champion Marc Johnson, who had been running second, came to a stop just past the second turn, the victim of mechanical failure for the second straight week.
Mahaney worked his way past Robert Bublak Jr. for second following the restart and another yellow on lap 20, when Peter Britten slowed with a flat tire, put Mahaney right next to Speshock for the restart.
Speshock, who hadn’t finished a feature in the first five weeks and started on the pole, had been using the same strategy on his restarts; lining up on the inside and then sliding to the top heading into the first turn. So Mahaney knew what was coming.
“I knew if I didn’t get a good restart, he’d take the lane away from me,” Mahaney said.
But it never happened.
“I spun my tires,” said Speshock. “On the restarts, this thing will throw you right back in the set, and when I spun the tires, I thought, Oh, s###.”
Mahaney stayed right next to Speshock heading through the first and second turns on the restart, and then took the lead for good going down the backstretch on lap 21. That left Speshock and Jessey Mueller to battle for second, and Speshock was able to pull away from Mueller late in the race to grab the runner-up position.
Following Speshock and Mueller across the finish line were Ken Tremont Jr. and Demetrios Drellos, who had started 14th.
“Speshock was keeping a good pace on top,” said Mahaney. “If not for the yellows, he had a good shot at getting the win.”
Darryl Nutting also recorded his first win of the season, taking the checkered flag in the 25-lap Northeast Paving and Sealcoat Sportsman Special, sponsored by Greg’s Towing.
The sportsman feature was slowed early by two red flags. On the original start, Nick Lussier bounced off the inside retaining wall in the fourth turn, caromed into traffic and by the time the chain-reaction stopped, 17 cars in the 30-car field were tangled up in the fourth turn.
Then, on lap 3, Jake Scarborough slowed down in a hurry coming out of the second turn, leaving Mike Coffey Jr. no escape route. Coffey Jr. hit the rear of Scarborough’s car, went over the backstretch and rolled over, coming to rest on his roof.
Once racing really began, Travis Billington came off the front row to grab the lead, but Nutting, who had started 12th, quickly became a contender, taking the No. 2 spot away from Ron Proctor on lap 13.
Nutting then got the lead on a restart on lap 15, and that’s where he stayed in the ONYX Industries-sponsored car.
In the closing laps, all eyes were on defending champion Tim Hartman Jr., who had been involved in the first red-flag incident and restarted at the rear. Hartman Jr. swung into second place with five to go, but never good a good shot at Nutting, who finished with a 1.586 second margin of victory.
The Buff brothers, Zach and Andrew, finished third and fourth, respectively, while Billington hung on for fifth.
Greg Davis of Greg’s Towing put up $100 bonuses to the drivers who finished fifth, 10th, 15th, 20th and 25th. Those bonuses went to Billington, Alex Bell, Drew Cormie, Proctor and Scarborough.
In addition, the Four States Enterprises Dash for Cash was also for the sportsman, with Pat Jones taking home that $200.
Defending track champion Chad Jeseo won the 25-lap Eastwood Detailing Pro Stock feature, surviving a late charge from Jason Casey. That feature saw some wild racing between pole-sitter Jordan Modiano and Luke Horning, who started fourth.
Horning took the lead on lap three, elbowing his way between Modiano and Chris Murray coming out of the second turn. But the next time around, Modiano slid up the track and made contact with Horning in the fourth turn, and came away with the lead.
Modiano and Horning then began to break away from the field, until Rich Crane made a charge and pulled right up on Horning’s rear bumper. But Crane lost some momentum on lap 12 when he and Horning made contact in the second turn, with Crane, who was on the inside, brushing against the jersey barrier.
But Crane didn’t give up, and battled right back and finally took over second on lap 16. But two laps later, Crane and Horning again made contact, this time in the fourth turn, resulting in Crane spinning around.
Jeseo, who had been watching all of the action in front of him, then hooked up with Horning in a side-by-side battle, and Jeseo finally got the lead with one lap to go and went on to collect a $1,000 payday, with the extra purse money put up by Ron Mensing’s Native Pride program.
The last lap saw Horning and Rob Yetman make contact coming out of the second turn, with Horning losing some spots, and Yetman then got into Jason Casey between the third and fourth turns, with Yetman spinning out.
Crossing the finish line behind Jeseo were Jason Casey, Scott Towslee, Shane Henderson and Horning.
“That was awesome. I hope the fans liked it,” said Jeseo in victory lane. “I feel bad for taking one away from my buddy Luke. He does so much for this division.”
Scott Bennett Jr. won the 20-lap Haun Welding Limited Sportsman feature, outrunning Taylor Wason and Mike Arnold to chalk up his first win of the season. The win was especially sweet for Bennett, who had been involved in a nasty wreck earlier in the season.
P.J. Cram Jr. took the lead on lap eight and went on to win the 15-lap Lake Auto Parts Street Stock feature. He had Jason Samrov hanging on his rear bumper for the last three laps of the race, but all Samrov could do was push Cram across the finish line as Cram recorded his first win of the season. Josh Samrov came across the finish line third.
Jon Sheppard drove to his second straight victory in the 15-lap Greg’s Towing Four-Cylinder feature. Sheppard went from third to first coming out on the second turn on lap six to get the lead, and easily held off David Frame for the win. Tim Meltz finished fifth overall and had the first single-cam car across the finish line, giving him four wins in five starts this season.
NAPA MODIFIEDS: MIKE MAHANEY, Jack Speshock, Jessey Mueller, Ken Tremont Sr., Demetrios Drellos, Keith Flach, Robert Bublak Jr., Jeremy Pitts, Jack Lehner, Derek Bornt, Don Ronca, Rich Ronca, Peter Britten, Derrick McGrew Jr., CG Morey, Matt DeLorenzo, Bill August, James Meehan, Marc Johnson, Ronnie Johnson, Vinnie Visconti, Brandon Daley, Matt Depew, Adam Pierson, Ryan McCartney.
NORTHEAST PAVING & SEALCOAT SPORTSMAN; DARRYL NUTTING, Tim Hartman Jr., Zach Buff, Andrew Buff, Travis Billington, David Boisclair, Gerard LeClair, Dylan Madsen, Jim Nagle, Alex Bell, Chris Jakubiak, Jeff Washburn, Cody Ochs, Dan Grignon, Drew Cormie, Dave Baranowski Jr., Jon Miller, Jim Osgood, Butch Wilcox, Ron Proctor, Elliot Lussier, Travis Witbeck, Mike Ballestero, Chris Johnson, Jake Scarborough, Scott Duell, Mike Coffey Jr., Nick Lussier, Joey Scarborough, Pat Jones.
EASTWOOD DETAILING PRO STOCKS: CHAD JESEO, Jason Casey, Scott Towslee, Shane Henderson, Luke Horning, Frank Hoard Jr., Rich Crane, Chucky Dumblewski, Kim Duell, Kyle Hoard, Dave Stickles, Jay Casey, Mike Baker, Jaxson Ryan, Jordan Modiano, Rob Yetman, Jason Meltz, Norm Loubier, Chris Murrey, Pete Vila.
HAUN WELDING LIMITED SPORTSMAN: SCOTT BENNETT, Taylor Wason, Mike Arnold, Nick Auspelmyer, Mike Parodi, Nick Arnold, Tommy D’Angelo, Craig Wholey, Dakota Green, Ron Delease, Chris Bisson, John Santolin, Chris Crane Jr., Phil Arnold, Wesley Sutliff, Walter Cook, Dylan Grogan, Steve Burch, Tanner Coon, Ashton Pierson, David Zelker, Anthony Maxon, Shaedon Mosso, James Galarneau, Dan Seguin.
LAKE AUTO PARTS STREET STOCKS: P.J. CRAM JR., Jason Samrov, Josh Samrov, Nick Napoli, John Filarecki, Jimmy Duncan, Patrick Cram Sr., Dan Madigan, Al Relyea, Ray Pierre Jr., Cordell Younger, Josh Hemming, Dana Van Veghten, Jeff Meltz, Matt Mosher
GREG’S TOWING FOUR-CYLINDERS: JON SHEPPARD, David Frame, Elmer Montville, Damian Ward, Tim Meltz (first single cam), Robert Garney, Chris Duffney Jr., Justin Ramsey, John Sullivan, Kyle Lanfear, Jason Mason, Micah Grant, Brittany Ladd, Olivia Swinton, Chris Daylieko, Adam Montville, Daniel Joubert, Chyanne Garney.